Poem: Epitaph ~ Elinor Wylie

June 25, 2019 | Filed Under Poem for Hela | No Comments

~ Elinor Wylie

For this she starred her eyes with salt
And scooped her temples thin,
Until her face shone pure of fault
From the forehead to the chin.

In coldest crucibles of pain
Her shrinking flesh was fired
And smoothed into a finer grain
To make it more desired.

Pain left her lips more clear than glass;
It colored and cooled her hand.
She lay a field of scented grass
Yielded as pasture land.

For this her loveliness was curved
And carved as silver is:
For this she was brave: but she deserved
A better grave than this.


Rest Is Not Optional

June 24, 2019 | Filed Under Things I Think About | No Comments

One of the things that is painfully out of balance about our current culture is that it does not value rest. We are supposed to be doing something every minute of the day, and that’s simply not healthy. Even our hunter-gatherer forebears and agrarian societies had times of rest. I read one book (don’t ask me which one, it was more than five minutes ago) that estimated the survival work averaged about 20 – 25 hours per adult each week, outside of the push at spring planting and fall harvest.

We, however, bolstered by technical advances of every kind and a theoretically higher standard of living, are supposed to be fully occupied with some damn thing or other 16 hours per day, and still somehow enjoy 8 uninterrupted hours of sleep. Given that that most 8 hour workdays are really 10 – 11 hours because of commuting, the numbers do not add up. It’s insane, and we can’t keep insisting that this is a workable norm.

We can take care of ourselves by setting boundaries on our time, and focusing on what’s truly important, and on doing only those things which are based in love, joy, and fulfillment. There are endless books, blog posts, and advice columns telling us that it’s just a matter of planning and being organized.

Right. (Most of those also feature perfectly-groomed women doing yoga on the beach, or laughing over a bowl of salad in an immaculate kitchen. Consider the source.)

The reality is that, no matter how well we manage our time, we still have only 24 hours in which to live each day—and for many of us, most of those hours are consumed by the need to work and pay for our daily existence. The struggle so many of us experience, trying to set boundaries and find that balance is, in itself, consuming our time and energy.

No matter how good our intentions, or how intense our desires for an authentic, creative life may be, we are unable to alter the fact that we have limited time each day, and many of those hours are claimed by obligations which are not optional. (Unless, of course, you are independently wealthy and can delegate everything to other people, but I don’t personally know anyone with that particular luxury.)

Be kind to yourself as you figure it out. There is no one right answer—some days, things flow effortlessly, and other days, the Universe operates with complete disregard for your plans. Do your best with what arises, and do your best to defend your quiet time, your time to do nothing, and your time to sleep.

Whichever kind of day you are having, you can take the time to stop, breathe, and decide how you will spend the next 15 minutes. You may not be able to manage the entire day, but you can manage the next 15 minutes—and that may be to unplug and be quiet, so you can deal with the 15 minutes after that.


Your Opinion Is Not Required

June 21, 2019 | Filed Under Things I Think About | No Comments

A few months ago, a friend went through a harrowing medical situation with a family member. In discussing it with a small group of friends, she expressed her gratitude for the nurses who had carefully tended her relative and encouraged her and the family during the recovery process.

Another person in the group commented, “I can’t stand nurses. They’re rude and bossy.”

We all stared at her for a moment, then returned our attention to our friend, who continued her story.

When someone is expressing gratitude, why would you feel it necessary or appropriate to rain negativity on them? What possible good does it do anyone to diminish someone’s appreciation of something good that has happened for them? Perhaps your experience does not match theirs, but it is not helpful to anyone for you to detract from their positive experience.

Be tactful. Be mature. Be the person Mr. Rogers knew you can be. The world has enough negativity; there’s no point in diminishing something good.


Poem: Interlude ~ Amy Lowell

June 20, 2019 | Filed Under Poem for Hela | No Comments

~ Amy Lowell

When I have baked white cakes
And grated green almonds to spread upon them;
When I have picked the green crowns from the strawberries
And piled them, cone-pointed, in a blue and yellow platter;
When I have smoothed the seam of the linen I have been working;
What then?
To-morrow it will be the same:
Cakes and strawberries,
And needles in and out of cloth.
If the sun is beautiful on bricks and pewter,
How much more beautiful is the moon,
Slanting down the gauffered branches of a plum-tree;
The moon,
Wavering across a bed of tulips;
The moon,
Upon your face.
You shine, Beloved,
You and the moon.
But which is the reflection?
The clock is striking eleven.
I think, when we have shut and barred the door,
The night will be dark

You Can’t Always Get What You Want

June 19, 2019 | Filed Under Things I Think About | No Comments


This is my travel water bottle. It’s decorated with swans (imagine that!) and goes with me in the car, on plane trips, wherever I go that it makes sense to have a water bottle.

I was recently working the registration desk at a conference which takes place at a university. It’s summer, so there aren’t many students around, but there are some taking summer classes. University staff are also present in varying numbers, as well as random people taking a shortcut through the building to walk in the air conditioning instead of the heat outdoors. So, I’m used to people who aren’t affiliated with the conference stopping at the desk to ask questions. “What is this?” “What do you do?” “Can I have one of those?” (pointing to the t-shirts or other conference swag). We (the reg desk staff) are always polite and answer the questions (“it’s a conference”, “there are workshops”, “sorry, no, we have to save them for the people who paid to attend the conference”), because 1) there’s no reason not to be polite and 2) you never know when a casual inquiry this year will become an attendee next year.

The last day of the conference, however, one man stopped by and was determined to get something from us. He didn’t want a t-shirt (we sell them for $10 on the last day of the conference after all the attendees have theirs, and donate the money to charity), or a conference bag, or any of the other swag—he wanted my swan water bottle. I explained that it wasn’t part of the swag, it’s my personal possession, and no, it is not for sale. He persisted, because he “really liked it”. I gave him the name of the company that makes the bottles, and told him to check their website. That was not sufficient—he wanted to buy the one I had right there, and he had to have it.

I looked him in the eye and said, “You do not have the right to something just because you want it. Any four-year-old can tell you that.”

He was deeply offended (not my problem), and replied, “Well, you don’t have to be rude about it!” and stomped away in a manner that any four-year-old would have found embarrassing.

I think it wasn’t really about the water bottle, but him trying to get something to prove to himself how clever he is.

Either way, it didn’t work out the way he expected. Did he take the lesson? My guess is no. Perhaps we’ll find out at next year’s conference.


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